Sunday, August 10, 2008

Minnesota Summer

Every time I visit MN I’m reminded how wonderful the lakes are – the smooth, shimmering blue waters, the green that surrounds them, the houses and cabins, that range from tiny boxes to million-dollar mansions. Everyone is equal on the lake. People gather to enjoy the beautiful views and the warm summer waters.

I drove a jetski across the waters, seeing the vivid blueness all around me, pulling two children on tubes behind me, who laughed and screamed as they careened across the waves. Those are the experiences childhood memories are made from.

Each morning I walked with my father to the coffee shop. Golden grasses and small swamps lined the path we walked. Clouds of grasshoppers hopped from side to side. Their greenish-yellow bodies bounced off of River’s fat, white legs. Black and yellow butterflies flew among them and orioles perched upon branches. I thought back to the time of Laura Ingalls Wilder and how she must have encountered the grasshoppers on the plain.

One find from this visit to Minnesota is Doolittles, in Eagan - an upscale café with a comfortable outdoor patio, heated in cool weather. Smell the juicy rotisserie chickens roasting as you enter. The fried walleye fingers are flaky, juicy and flavorful. Friends and family recommend trying anything with the rotisserie chicken (one option is a cranberry chicken salad). Good wine selection. The key lime pie can be skipped.

Another recent favorite is Rudy’s Red Eye Grill in Lakeville. You’d never guess that a restaurant located in a Holiday Inn would be a hidden gem, but this one is. Delicious, modern cuisine is served in a warm, inviting atmosphere with rich wooden benches at reasonable prices. The Sunday buffet is a hit.

If you want to hang with the real Minnesotans, try The Red Fox Tavern in Lakeville, a perfect place for a burger, a beer and dancing to small-town music.

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